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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

zzz             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
architrave of the half-gone shrine at its far end. What kings had oft proudly walked upon this track and inscribed their victories upon pillar and wall, and yet where were they now? Thothmes, Amenhotep, Seti, Rameses, Tutankhamen, Ptolemy —the bearded faces of these men who had ruled Egypt and swayed its life thousands of years ago, passed in procession before my gaze and faded away into the air. Was pride worth while, I asked myself, when every achievement and every accomplishment was destined to be blown away like dust? Was it not better to walk one's path in this world quietly, humbly, and to remember that one held all things only by the grace of a higher power?
The day was nearly gone, and had begun to yield itself to dusk like a serpent to its charmer, by the time I had finished my perambulation of this broken city of temples.
There was once a king of the twenty-second dynasty who built a wall of mud bricks to girdle all the temples of Karnak, and when it was complete its circuit was not less than one mile and a half, Karnak was a saga in stone, an epic of majestic effort and inevitable destruction, a ruined yet immortal glory 1
I lingered on while the marvellous but swift sunset, like a dazzling angel whose quivering halo was coloured in every hue from gold to red, hovered over the scene, and ended this visit. The vast picture of ruin and field and desert suffused with so many tints, overwhelmed me into ecstatic absorption.
Again and again I returned to Karnak, letting the days slip by in mingled dalliance and research while adding to my store of unforgettable memories and unusual facts. Karnak's glamour slipped over you, like an approaching river-mist, almost imperceptibly until the time came when you awoke to find that it surrounded you. Men without subtle intelligence and fine feeling can see nothing more in these half-broken temples than a heap of bricks, stones, dust and mortar. Pity them 1 Let us rise from contemplation of these majestic ruins with souls impressed and awed, conscious of the beauty and dignity which they retain even in their present state of pathetic dilapidation.
I was fortunate in having the'whole ground to myself; so that I could move untroubled and undisturbed by ftthers, in a silence that reigned supreme and absolute, broken only at odd times by the drowsy hum of bees and the pleasant twittering of sparrows. For it was midsummer, and all the crowds of perspiring tourists had deserted Luxor and long since fled